We used Golden Bus Tours for our red bus tour, it seemed to offer the same experience as other companies, but was slightly cheaper for a 24-hr hop-on hop-off ticket. We had intended this to work as means for getting around London while visiting the main sites. Technically it works, as you can get on the bus at any of the stops during the bus times. It’s much more advantageous as travel means if you’re staying in central London, however, as our apartment was just outside of London we had to take public transport to get to the nearest bus stop.
The first time we rode the bus was on our first day in London, we landed in Heathrow around 9 am, dragged our luggage across town to where we were staying, got some groceries, and then went to catch the bus. I’m still amazed we managed to stay up until 10:30 that night, although Colton was nodding off on the bus tour. We started off with a live tour guide; he made the ride more personal and informative (how else would you learn about the time a member of the royal family was executed before someone realized there wasn’t a portrait of him and so they had to put his head back on to do the painting before chopping it off again?). No offense to Siri’s English cousin, but the voice recording we listened to on the other rides were not entertaining and I only kept my headphones on in order to determine which stops were coming up.
Best Store name ever
In summary, the bus tour is fine to give you a quick look at some sites in London, but make sure you have a live guide, otherwise you’re just driving around town—which is fine the first time around but not so much on your second go. And don’t trust the map, it’s not to scale nor accurate about the route and number of stops (lot more stops than listed).
Our apartment was cozy for sure, good size for two people but I wouldn’t risk three. It was nice being out of London because we could pretend we were locals for a bit—until of course we opened our mouths and people would stare at us on the tube because we’re the ones that talk funny. We walked through the neighborhood, went to the local grocers for food, a bakery for a quick bite, a Vietnamese restaurant (did not give me sweet sauce for my spring rolls, but otherwise good), and an awesome brunch place called The Brockley Mess, which we fortunately didn’t discover until our last day in London because we’d probably been there every day if we had gone sooner.
Sadly, this sign in our Flat had nothing to do with Doctor Who
Warning to any other Americans who crave the dark caffeinated beverage: local coffee shops do not open at the crack of dawn like they do in the States.
The only museum we spent a far amount of time in was the Natural History Museum, which was essentially divided between Earth Science and Life Sciences. The Earth Science entrance has a much shorter line probably because it’s the side with a bunch of rocks (Sorry to all of the Geologists in my life, I think there’s one of you). Some cool fossils with profoundly lacking names and some impressive and creative presentations but not something that really peaked our interested. That was until we spotted the room with the fossils: T-rex skull and DinoCroc (not its real name but I’m going with that) side-by-side.
We got through the rocks quickly and meandered through the room filled with everything you ever had to study in Ornithology and a whole lot of stuffed birds—the coolest being two
recreated Dodos. This lead into prehistoric dolphins and a side room with bugs and crustaceans (I was ok with leaving this room without seeing every detail). Then we discovered the great hall with the Dinosaur skeleton and the massive line for the dinosaur exhibit, which consequently led into the other exhibits.
It was somewhat slow going into the dino exhibit as you were stuck on a catwalk on the first portion, occasionally was held up by fussy kids, but once you got to the lower level you freer to move at a faster pace if you wanted. I could tell I was losing my travel companion so we moved outside for a quick picnic (neither one of us enjoyed the lunchmeat we procured in London, and consequently I’ve noticed neither one of us has mentioned purchasing any while in France, I guess we’re scarred.)
From here we visited the mammals, skeletons and models side-by-side. You could tell many of the displays had been there a while, but it seem more respectful than dilapidated when compared to a museum in the States, given the length of time from when the museum first started.
We made a quick walk through the reptiles before heading to the Victoria and Albert Museum next door, a building filled with objects that we weren’t as well versed in (ya know, art and stuff). With only a few minutes in the Japanese exhibit, I had determined that what we needed was ice cream to keep the team going and thankfully, the V&A provided free Wi-Fi (no data roaming for us!). We got some chilled scoops of comfort from a couple of Italians (there definitely wasn’t an English accent) and enjoyed some relaxation whilst reading warning signs about professional criminals working in the area.